By Tyler Devine
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Ever since his 71-yard interception return touchdown in the waning moments of Iowa’s 41-21 win over Penn State, Daviyon Nixon’s phone hasn’t stopped buzzing.
The 6-foot-3, 305-pound junior defensive tackle said Tuesday that the response has been overwhelming, but appreciated.
“I’ve got so many new followers,” Nixon said. “So many guys who just direct messaging me, telling me they’re huge fans of mine and that they love how I play, they love how I carry myself. And I’m just happy that I’m making more people than I even know proud of what I’m doing, who I’m becoming as a person and a football player. It’s a great feeling just to see the love and support from anybody and everyone around the country.”
Nixon said after Saturday’s game that the interception was the first touchdown he has ever scored at any level.
One of the moves Nixon used to evade two Penn State players drew comparisons to basketball moves and prompted a social media exchange with star Iowa center Luka Garza about a potential one-on-one game.
“I would have to (muscle him up),” Nixon said. “I don’t think I would have a choice. I can’t shoot very well and he’s a very good shooter. I would have to just keep the ball in the paint as much as possible and see what I can do there.”
Mr. Linderbaum: Redshirt sophomore center Tyler Linderbaum said Tuesday that he has not thought about potentially leaving Iowa early to enter the NFL Draft next spring.
But Linderbaum, who is widely regarded as one of the best centers in the country, does know what he would like to do when his playing days are over.
The 6-foot-3, 289-pound Solon native wants to teach and coach.
“I just changed my major to elementary education,” Linderbaum said. “I want to be a teacher in the future. It was enterprise leadership, but not anymore. My whole family – my dad’s side of the family – is a lot of teachers. All of his sisters, his parents were in the education program. It’s just something that I want to do, I want to be with kids, work with them. And I also want to get into high school coaching, all that stuff.”
Surging Hawkeyes: Iowa enters its Black Friday matchup against Nebraska on a three-game winning streak after starting the season with losses to Northwestern and Purdue.
For the Iowa players, the solution was simple: limit the mistakes.
After combining for five turnovers against Purdue and Northwester, Iowa has given the ball away twice during its three-game winning streak.
“Those first two losses sucked,” Linderbaum said. “We knew we were good enough to beat those teams and it just came down to execution, limit the mistakes that we were creating and just keep pushing through it. We knew we had a good team. The leadership and the morale of the team had to stay high. And once we got that first win, that sense of victory, that feeling of victory was nice for the team because we deserved it after so much we’ve been through.”
While some teams may crumble after starting a season 0-2, senior linebacker Nick Niemann said Iowa’s surge is a testament to the leadership on the team.
“I think that comes from the coaches and that talks about some of the leadership and the older guys on our team,” Niemann said. “Just being able to push those younger guys and guys that might be on the fence and in question about what’s going on. And just assuring everyone that we do have what it takes to win games and win those close games. I think we’ve all done a good job of that, trying to have everyone on the same page and make everyone believe that we can play like we’re capable of every week if we just make that decision.”